Keller Williams returns to Warren Station for four performances in two nights
IF YOU GO
What: Keller Williams and His Compadres
Where: Warren Station Center for the Arts, 164 Ida Belle Drive, Keystone.
When: Friday Dec. 21 and Saturday Dec. 22. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the shows start at 9.
Cost: $30 for one night and $55 for both when bought in advance. Prices increase by $5 the day of. Visit WarrenStation.com to purchase tickets.
December in Keystone can only mean one thing: Keller Williams and his Compadres have rolled into town. For the seventh year in a row, the two-night event will mix genres and band members.
First, Williams will perform a solo set with his signature, eclectic looping style Friday night and then he teams up with a trio of Andys — Leftover Salmon’s Andy Thorn along with Andy Hall and Andy Falco from the Infamous Stringdusters — for an acoustic bluegrass show.
“I’ve been on a number of them,” Hall, who shares his home state of Virginia with Williams, said, “and now we’re just buddies and we play together as much as we can. It’s fun. Jeremy, our fiddle player, is on the electric night and me and Falco are on the acoustic night. (Williams) uses the Stringdusters a good bit when he does acoustic stuff.”
Then on Saturday after another solo performance, Williams joins two Jeremys and an Eddie — the aforementioned Infamous Stringdusters’ Jeremy Garrett, Big Gigantic’s Jeremy Salken and New Mastersounds’ Eddie Roberts — for a groovy night of electronica.
“What’s cool about that is that Jeremy has a whole arsenal of effects that can make his violin sound like an organ and other super trippy sounds,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to him playing some keyboard sounds with his fiddle. I’ll be playing bass on both band sets and one of my favorite things is to lead a band on bass. There’s so much power on that low end, it’s really exciting.”
Whatever show you attend, don’t expect any holiday tunes. While Williams enjoys the Christmas spirit and the sense of togetherness the holidays bring, he said the seasonal music makes him physically sick. “It’s the worst,” he said. “I hate it. I can’t stand any of it.”
One Man Band
So what kind of music does Williams like? Well, just about everything else. The prolific looping artist has 23 albums to his name that dabble in almost as many genres. Though he sees himself mainly as a bluegrass performer, 2011’s “Bass” album has him playing with his reggae band Kdubalicious while two years later he released “Funk,” which includes a six-piece band playing, well, funk music.
He’s also had the opportunity to collaborate with legends like Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, iconic bassist Victor Wooten and banjo maestro Béla Fleck for 2007’s “Dream.”
“My attention deficit disorder goes beyond any kind of one music genre and I’m grateful to not be able to stagnate in one certain area.”
He has even performed with his daughter Ella, 14, and son Cabell, 10, on multiple occasions. Inspired by Jerry Garcia’s “Not for Kids Only” record, Williams made his own kid-and-parent-friendly album in 2010 that includes harmonies with his own children. His most recent release, the completely instrumental “Sans,” features the trio playing an avant-garde song called “The Cabella Vibe” composed of cellphone recordings of a basement jam session.
“Both of my kids, for some reason, have perfect pitch. It makes me really proud and pissed off at the same time,” Williams said, laughing.
Yet before all of the albums, Williams was a young boy in Fredericksburg, Virginia, playing pretend. The sounds and sights of the comedy show “Hee Haw” had him mimic strumming a guitar. The imaginary acoustic guitar soon transformed into a hockey stick with twine because it looked more like an electric ax. He also ran around the house, plucking keys on his mother’s piano and banging on pots and pans before shifting to a drum set made of pillows so to not upset his parents too much.
For practical reasons, he stuck with the guitar and when he was 16 he discovered that sitting on a stool playing covers earned him more money than the $3.50 an hour he made at temporary construction jobs. Then in the ’90s his career took off when he discovered looping.
“I wanted more places to go musically without being able to afford humans and without hitting a button where some secret sequencer plays all the instruments,” said Williams. “So the idea was to create more fun for myself and at the same time making music in an organic way. The idea from the get-go for me was to be in bands and create something bigger than what I can create myself and definitely have that camaraderie on the road and speak a language amongst other players without words.”
Shows like the ones at Warren Station and his collaboration albums help recharge Williams’ creative batteries. He considers his solo career his day job and what he’s most comfortable with, but, “too much solo can make me yearn to play with people and vice versa,” he said. “Each element of that helps out the other.”
If you miss it this year, chances are high that Williams will return.
He grew up skiing on the East Coast but turned to snowboarding when he lived in Steamboat Springs in 1995. The Compadres, started to highlight the Colorado music scene, are an extension of his love for the mountains and regional culture. “It’s good players and local goodness that I’m excited to be a part of again. It turns out to be a very loose, fun situation.”
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